LeBron James, Cavaliers forward
What’s up: Not to be left out of all the triple-double fun going on in the NBA this season, James has posted five of them in the last 10 games he’s played since the all-star break. He’s averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds and 9.1 assists overall during that span, putting the defending champions on his back as they work through struggles related to the absence of Kevin Love. The Cavaliers entered Saturday’s game against the Clippers having won three of their last four games while keeping their lead over Boston in the race for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference at 2½ games.
Background: James is pestering Father Time like the guy at the YMCA who plays annoyingly intense defense during pickup games. At age 32 and in his 14th NBA season, James is averaging his most minutes per game (37.5) since he returned to Cleveland after the 2013-14 season. Rest has become a common talking point this season as it relates to the four-time league MVP, but even when poring over his game with a fine-toothed comb, it’s hard to find cracks forged by the heavy workload. His field-goal percentage (.524), 3point percentage (.385), rebounds (8.4) and assists (8.9) are all well above his career averages, and his scoring (26 points per game) isn’t far off his typical pace.
Kosmider’s take: We tend to examine James through the lens of what we expect physically out of him, even though he has proved time and time again to be a robot in basketball sneakers programmed for destruction. The bigger rest for James came last summer, when he wisely decided to forgo playing for the United States in the Olympics in Brazil. That toll would have been too much after leading his team for the sixth consecutive season to the NBA Finals, where he led the Cavaliers to their first-ever championship. Speaking of rest, James will have had plenty of it when the Cavaliers roll into Denver on Wednesday after two days off.
LeBron James, a four-time league MVP, will be bringing the defending champion Cavaliers to Denver on Wednesday. Tony Dejak, The Associated Press